9.30.2010

Review- As Lie the Dead

I think this might be the very first case of a second book being better than first.  As Lie the Dead reads like the second half to a much larger story.  A story that is so well thought out, I'm still reeling from the plot twists and shocking reveals.


Our story starts exactly where we left it. Evy and Wyatt are quickly swept up in a new battle against "their kind" and the surviving Owlkin, who were slaughtered thanks to protecting Evy when she was a wanted criminal.  Evy can't help herself from feeling responsible for their near extinction and vows to protect the remaining few.  But the owlkins aren't merely satisfied with her protection, they're seeking revenge in the form of Rufus' head on a platter.  Of course Evy can't let Rufus be held accountable for something she already feels guilty for, so she vows to uncover the real masterminds behind the Triads' orders; the people really making the decisions of who dies and who lives.


Even though this book feels like the second half of a previous story Meding approaches As Lie the Dead with a fresh set of eyes, focusing on the inner workings of The Triads.  Self-proclaimed enforcers of the "Dregs", The Triads have decided what's right and what's wrong for the past 10 years. Evy really opens up and questions everything she's thought was un-questionable her past 4 years.  There was a whole sub-story taking place that I found really thought provoking.  Why do the Triads get to decide punishment for the Dregs?  Just like some might argue why does one ruling government get to raise arms against another just because they disagree or don't understand a culture or means of policing.  Now, this book is not uber political and this is only a part of the bigger picture, but I really enjoyed the silent messages of un-just nestled within Meding's pages. 


Turning Evy's black & white world into shades of grey is the introduction of Phin.  Phin is a shapeshifter Clan member who's eager for retribution for the needless slaughter of the Owlkin.  I thought he was such an interesting side-kick for her. All of her training pops up and screams for her not to trust a Dreg but Phin's actions continued to open her up to the possibility that Dregs might be just as "human" as humans.   Bring in George Clooney or Matt Damon and you've got your next espionage/spy flick complete with rugged good looks and sincere emotions.


The other part of the book that I just loved is Wyatt's backstory.  Ask and you shall receive.  His story fits flawlessly into the bigger picture and I had to pick my jaw up off the floor a couple times throughout his monologues.  I can't wait for more more more.  


Again, it's hard to go much further into detail without accidentally slipping a detail or two out, so I wont.


Bottom Line: One of best books I've read in 2010.

9.29.2010

Giveaway: Signed Copy of The Darkest Edge of Dawn

It's coming up to that time of the month again, no not THAT time of the month. It's time for this month's book club discussion.  This Friday, Oct 1st we'll be discussing Kelly Gay's The Better Part of Darkness. And I'm happy to announce that Kelly will be giving away a signed copy of Charlie Madigan's next adventure The Darkest Edge of Dawn.  All you need to do is stop by and say hi and if you'd like, join in on the discussion here.  


Hope to see you there

Absolute Nonsense

I'd like to think that I stay up on politics and try to know what's happening in my world.  But sometimes it all just becomes too much.  Sometimes I need a little comic relief.  So I remembered this ridiculous video I saw a million years ago, and went in youtube search for it.  I found it.  And I think it's still hilarious.  So here is my Humpday post. 


Disclaimer: I'm not trying to offend anyone and I did not make this video, but I did laugh out loud.




9.28.2010

Review- Three Days to Dead

Meding had me at hello.  I've never come across a title so blatant.  I loved how the title just tells it like it is.  And thankfully the story within never swayed from this sharp-as-glass attitude.


Evy wakes up on an autopsy table naked and disoriented, but things only get worse when she looks in the mirror and sees a complete stranger staring back at her.  Come to find out Evy's technically dead.  She's been brought "back" into someone else's body by her handler.  See Evangeline Stone is/was part of a triad team, a secret tactical group of renegades that protect the people from the "other" beings that inhabit the earth. The rest of her team is dead and she looks guilty for the job. Only her handler, Wyatt, believes that she's been framed and that there might be something bigger taking place.  But nothing is ever simple for Evy and Wyatt. Her resurrection wont last forever; she has exactly 3 days to figure out who's got her on the lamb and why.


Just like in the movie Momento, Three Days to Dead captures a unique perspective only acomplished through very skilled story telling and a precise focus on the characters within.  Evy is our point of view, and she's woken up with no memory of her last days on earth.  So we get to discover alongside Evy the bad guy, the course of events and what to do next.  This was maybe my favorite part of the story; the never knowing. 


The other thing that I'm still amazed about it, is how original this story comes off.  Vampires, goblins, trolls, fairies are nothing new, but Meding's versions are.  Each one's introduction is as unqiue as the next.  I particularly loved her version of the fae.  I hope that we get to see much more of them and the city they inhabit.  But all the "others" are a perfect mix of believable and unusual.


I loved the intensity of the story. It starts right away and literally never stops.  While this keeps the action high, and the tension real, it didn't give us a ton of time for backstory.  Meding did a great job of attaching me to our characters, I just hope that the next book has a little bit more insight and history. I am especially yearning for Wyatt's story. Gimme gimme. 


It's hard to talk more about the story without ruining the experience for you, and I wouldn't want to take that away from you.  But, believe me when I tell you that as soon as I finished I wanted to know what my characters were doing next.  


Bottom line: Meding crafts a non-stop story with characters you'll get hooked on. 


4 stars

9.27.2010

Winner Winner

The winner has been chosen for Carolyn Crane's Birthday Giveaway!  And the winner is


Alexa (27th comment)

Congratulations Alexa!  I'll email you this morning and get all your info.

I hope that even if you didn't win today you'll still go and read Mind Games so that you can pick up Double Cross that releases tomorrow. YAY! Thanks again to everyone for stopping by.  Have a great week!

9.26.2010

Special Thanks

Since Sunday is a day of peace and reflection I thought I'd do some reflecting and dish out some Thanks.  It's been nearly 2 months since I started typing and talking here and there are a few people that have helped make these first couple months actually fun. Melissa from My world... in words and pages and Robyn from The Bookoholic Zone were probably the first 2 people to reach out and say hi.  And I'll never forget it.  They're both so nice and helpful and if you haven't visited their websites you should.  Then I was lucky enough to befriended Julie from Yummy Men and Kick Ass Chicks. I love her site, and she's funny and comes with some great book recs.  Kindness runs her family so much so that her husband made my Spinecracker button on the home page --->  over there. Colette from A Buckeye Girl Reads and Sally from The Qwillery are another couple sites I love and people who I enjoy chatting up on twitter. 


The other thing that trips me out (that I'm totally shocked by) is how approachable authors are.  I've yet to be laughed at by anyone.  Special thanks to Carolyn Crane, Kat Richardson, and Kelly Gay for answering my emails and tweets and being all-around warm. 


I'm from Texas originally, but moved to California 12 years ago for college, and maybe I've become like all the other SoCal people, too busy on your cell phones to smile at the stranger standing in line next to you, because I've been genuinely touched by the hospitality I've received.  It's hard when you've arrived late to party, so thanks to each of you for making me feel welcome.

9.23.2010

Review- Dayhunter

Poor Mira, tasked with saving the world yet again. Our story starts a day or two after the end of Nightwalker and Mira and Danaus are in Venice to see the Coven who've summoned her.  They have a couple days until the naturi will atempt to brake open the seals in place against them.  And they hope that the mighty Coven will offer some relief and have some much-needed answers.  
  
Drake does an amazing job of relaying Mira's somber state throughout the book.  Mira is very low, and at times I wanted to close the book in frustration because of all the bull-shit she's up against.  She has lost one of her gardiaun angels, Michael, and has charged herself responsible for now watching over Tristan as a means of redemption. But the interactions aren't the same.  And without either of her friendly guardians present, Mira came off very lonely. Danaus is still her confidant but they're both so stressed out the entire time, that there was no friendly banter much like in the previous book. 


The majority of the middle was all about the coven's politics and about each elder's end-game.  You discover a little bit about their goals for humans, the naturi, and even their master; their Liege.  Unforunately, the Liege still has yet to appear but, I fell safe in saying that once the curtain is pulled back and the wizard is revealed we'll wish for the stories when he was only in the background.  Each elder was a unique addition to the story and to Mira's character background.


The story-line was a bit sluggish, and the whole book felt almost like Act II of the previous book; a second half of the same story if you will.  Granted it's a unique approach to story telling, but it did make me wonder through the slow bits thinking "we sure are going back and forth with the same characters and locations a lot".  Now, it's all very important to the overall series, and by the end of the story I was very happy with all the incites I've made, I just wanted...I don't even know what I wanted.


I'm still thoroughly enjoying Drake's writing style.  She really has a way with scenes and the players involved in them.  Her crafty ways keep even the repetitive locations mysterious and interesting. Venice is painted in splashes of grey and charcoal instead of it's usual blues and oranges.  I thought this new take on a stereotypically serene destination appealing.  I'll never think of Venice quite the same again.  


Bottom Line: Not quite the same magic but, an important part of the Dark Days series 


3.5 stars

9.22.2010

Review- Archangel's Kiss

I've made it pretty clear that I think the Guild Hunter's series is fantastic. That I recommend it to everyone who will listen.  That I'm pretty sure, I'm going to be Elena this halloween.  But no matter how much I may love the first in a series, I've come to expect a "soft" book 2.  I love when I'm wrong!


Elena has become the first "made" angel in history.  She's awakened from her year coma an angel with a human's heart.  Raphael has taken her to the Refuge, the angel's version of Club Med, to train and teach and protect her.  But with Elena as his mate, Raphael has given his enemies a surefire way to weaken him body and soul.  Many new players have appeared with their own set of motives, set on taking Elena away from him.


Singh is a skilled fantasy writer.  She describes the Refuge like a historian would describe the lost city of Machu Picchu, or the ruins of Pompei.  Her descriptions fill your mind with images of waterfalls, ancient structures, and sunlit gardens. I came to think of the Refuge as a tempting version of Heaven, even though it was constantly filled with espionage and murder. 


Raphael and Elena's characters go through some major changes within the story.  And I think Singh did a great job of maintaining the integrity of both of them.  Raphael has "become a little human".  He finds himself struggling with feelings of concern, and something that borders on compassion.  These sensations bring up a lot of images and emotions from his childhood and the few snippets of info we get say a lot about his personality.  Now, don't go worrying that he's become some mushy anti-hero, because that is not the case.  Raphael still infuriates and annoys at times, but his love for Elena has definitely changed him.


Elena obviously changes the most throughout the story.  She's an angel now for crying out loud.  In her new form Elena is struggling. In the beginning she can barely walk or lift her arms.  In think it's important to see a kick-ass heroines turn weak for a bit.  And as bad as it sounds, it was interesting to watch her like this.  Trust is not really an issue for Elena, but dependancy is a whole other subject.  So, waking up and discovering you can't do it all by yourself anymore is a big shock.  


Like Raphael, Elena is being inundated with memories from her childhood.  She continues to have flashbacks of the night her family was killed, and makes some shocking realizations. The flashbacks are gut-wrenching, and I almost wish they took place in the next story.  (By the end, you understand why they're in the story) This horrible event in Elena's life is a huge part of who she is, and mixed with the ongoing plot and the changes she's making to fit in with her new angel lifestyle, it seemed to be the 3rd most important part of the story.  


The on-going plot was a little tepid.  Granted, it always keeps you guessing and wondering and trying to figure out, but it wasn't what I enjoyed most in the book. When I think back of the book it seems almost insignificant.  Having said that, the ending was genius.  Looking back, the ending was hinted at the entire book, right under my nose, but up until 2 pages before the reveal I swear I didn't see it coming.  I love that! 


Bottom Line: The chemistry between Raphel & Elena continues to sizzle, and the changes their facing is something to watch.


4 stars

9.21.2010

Behind The Pen: with Carolyn Crane (+giveaway)

OK, I love interviews.  But I find the artists behind the stories equaling intriguing, and I think they deserve as much limelight as their characters. So here instead of a list of questions about the story, the plot, and the characters I ask authors the same 11 questions about themselves and hopefully get a glimpse behind the pen...


Today is a special day for a couple reasons.  To start, this is the first edition of 'Behind the Pen'. But more importantly, today is one of my favorite new authors Carolyn Crane's birthday! So, to celebrate she'll be leading off this new segment, and will be giving away a copy of Mind Games and a chocolate treat (since birthday cake is a tad hard to ship)


Giveaway Details: 

  • Please make a comment, sing a birthday song, give away a wish, etc. below
  • U.S. & Canada only
  • You have until Friday, Sept 24th at 8pm (pst) to leave a comment for Carolyn
  • Winner will be announced here Monday Sept. 27th



In case you don't know Carolyn, she's the author of The Disillusionists series. She has her highly anticipated second installment in the series, Double Cross, releasing Sept. 28th. Be sure to pick up a copy!  
And if Carolyn is a new author to you, then definitely leave a comment here and get a copy of Mind Games so you can see what all the fuss is about.  





Q 1: What is the last book you read?
CC: I just finished MY FORBIDDEN DESIRE by Carolyn Jewel. It was my first Carolyn Jewel paranormal (I love her historicals) and I read it out of order! I almost never do that, but it totally worked, and I loved it. Darkly sexy, and really inventive and trippy in terms of magical stuff, and also, really darn exciting!


Q 2: If you were stuck on a desert island, what book would you like to have with you?
CC: Well, I might reread Kushiel’s Dart. It’s nice and long, and I thought it was excellent. I always mean to reread Middlemarch, too. I love that book. I think I’d want to bring a book I already read, so that I’d know it’s good. Though, if Joanna Bourne’s next was out, I’d bring that.


Q 3: What is your favorite swear word?
CC: Fuck! I think it carries the most weight.

Q 4: What is your biggest pet-peeve?
CC: This is stupid, but when people put on their signal while they are turning, instead of beforehand. Or, when you get stuck behind them at a light, and THEN they turn on their signal. Why? Why even bother? Oh you late signal turner-oners!! Also, I don’t like when people over-explain things to me. Also, I hate when people don’t recycle when they just as easily could. Look, three answers. Hopefully your pet-peeve isn’t people who endlessly prattle on about their pet peeves. 

Q 5: What quality do you most like in a man?
CC: I was just thinking the other day how much I love how impractical my husband is. I’m really practical and he is so wonderfully impulsive and impractical.

Q 6: What quality do you most like in a woman?
CC: Intelligence. And I tend to like sarcastic and/or humorous women.

Q 7: What profession, other than your own, would you like to attempt?
CC: I would like to be a cop. I would arrest those late-signalers! No, that’s not why. I guess I just love cop shows. But I would have to have a complete personality transplant first. I’m way too much of a pushover to be a cop.

Q 8: If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be?
CC: These are very interesting questions! I’d really love to live in San Francisco. I always feel really happy there. And the cool weather makes me want to run around excitedly. And, as freelancers, my husband and I are somewhat mobile, and we do contemplate moves like that (my husband would love to go back to New York city, his childhood home). But the cost! Minneapolis is pretty inexpensive living, which is great for writers. You don’t have to work as much to survive, and it’s a nice place, too.


Q 9: What inspires you?
CC: This is a very  open-ended question! I would have to say portrayals of intensity and raw emotion inspire me, especially in songs or movies or really excellent TV shows. For example, there was this scene in The Shield, an ultra-violent cop show I like, where this minor character, Dutch’s, self image got totally penetrated and destroyed by a serial killer’s insight. I was shocked and moved by it. I guess anything that moves me, because I am a totally even-keeled person. Look how I go on and on! Do I get excused because it is my birthday?  (OF COURSE YOU DO!)

Q 10: If you could be one person (dead or alive) for a day who would you be?
CC: I can’t even think of an answer! Not a writer. I’d like to be somebody who works on projects with other people, and is really into it.

Q 11: Mac or PC?
CC: Mac, baby!



*I did ask Carolyn a couple questions I've always wanted to ask her*

The Spinecracker: I can only imagine what it must be like for you on a release day. How do you cope? Any unique quirks, rituals, places/sites you avoid or can't stay away from?
CC: All of release week can be kind of emotional. It’s like you’ve been living in this enclosed biosphere of stories and people that you created, tending lovingly to it all, and suddenly it’s not enclosed anymore and everybody sees into it and says stuff about it. I’ve only been through one release day, and I was kind of a mess! I mean, it’s fun and exciting, and it’s what a writer ultimately wants—a book release. But it’s scary. I find it’s hard to concentrate. In the best world, I’ll stay away from things like Amazon rankings and trolling Google for every mention.

The Spinecracker: I've always loved superheroes, and the Disillusionists are an original set.   How long were they playing around in your head, before you decided they had a story to tell?  And how long did it take you to write their first story, or did you write all three at once?
CC: I got the idea all at once, really (An anecdote I sometimes tell, that I had just read a hugely depressing semi-philosophical book that made me feel awful, and I thought, if I had an enemy, I would give them this book as a gift, so that they could feel as disillusioned as I did. Then I thought, what if there were people who disillusioned other people for money? Hey, that would make an interesting plot!) And from that idea I started playing with a possible team. From the start, I thought it would be cool if, with my squad, if their weaknesses were powers. It evolved and simplified as I worked with it, maybe over about four months until I had the setup where it is now. It started out overly complex.



Help me thank Carolyn for being so kind and taking the time to answer my Proust-esque questionnaire by leaving a comment/birthday wish!


Be sure to go out and purchase Double Cross when it releases Sept 28th!

9.19.2010

Personal Challenge

I have the attention span of child who's skipped their Adderall dose when it comes to items of interest. Music and Books are my weakness.  I oooh & ahhh and spend far too much money on both.  And I get easily sidetracked.  There are so many great titles out there, but there are quite a few that I've been eye-balling for a while, some new and some not new. It's time.  So, I'm trying something new this upcoming month.  I've created a list of 10 books that I'm challenging myself to read in October without being tempted by distractions.  So I'm putting the blinders on! 
(oh, but I've allowed myself to digress with 1 series, because even I know I'm not immortal)

WICKED ENCHANTMENT BY ANYA BAST
When you’re a half incubus, your reputation precedes you… 

All eyes are on Gabriel Mac Braire the day he makes his first appearance in the Seelie Court, including those of Aislinn Finvarra. Despite deep bitterness over her last failed relationship, Aislinn cannot help but be curious about the half incubus who is known to possess dark magick, both lethal and sexual in nature. Rumors abound of the women who have become enslaved to his irresistible charms.

So when the Summer Queen of the fae orders Aislinn herself to act as his guide in the court, she is understandably on guard. She’s fallen under the spell of far less persuasive men before. In addition, Gabriel might be more than he seems and his true mission is far from innocent.

This time, Aislinn must protect not only her heart, but her very life…



 DEAD, UNDEAD, OR SOMEWHERE IN BETWEEN BY J.A. SAARE
She left behind the flash and sass of Miami for the no-nonsense groove of New York City, eager for a clean slate and a fresh start. A bartender by trade, a loud mouth by choice, and a necromancer by chance; she managed to keep her nifty talent hidden from those around her—until now. 

The deliciously good-looking vampire, Disco, knows her secret. When he strolls into her bar to solicit help investigating the mysterious disappearances of his kind from the city, Rhiannon discovers he’s not the kind of person that appreciates the significance of the word no.

But in a world where vampires peddle their blood as the latest and greatest drug of choice, it’s only a matter of time before the next big thing hits the market. Someone or something is killing vampires to steal their hearts, and unlike Rhiannon, this isn’t their first stroll around the undead block.   



   BLOOD SONG BY CAT ADAMS
Bodyguard Celia Graves plies her trade in a world where vampires roam the alleys of Tinseltown and movie stars openly practice witchcraft., where streetcorner psychics have real powers and cops use memory enhancement spells on witnesses. Though she’s an ordinary human, Celia uses street smarts and charmed weapons to protect the rich and famous from mortal and supernatural threats. 

She’s landed a plum job, protecting the Prince of a small but politically vital nation while he tours Los Angeles’s least savory hot spots. What should be a routine assignment goes badly wrong. Attacked by a master vampire, Celia knows she is about to die.

She’s startled to awaken on a cold metal table in a university lab. Celia Graves has become an Abomination, neither fully mortal nor fully vampire. Her “master” is hunting her, to destroy her or finish what his bite began. She’s accused of murder and the cops aren’t sure whether she should be locked up or staked. And then there’s the demon she glimpsed during the vampire attack . . . .
Struggling to cope with her new powers and trying not to terrify everyone she meets with a flash of fang, Celia reaches out for help from her once (and future?) lover, who is a powerful mage; his warrior-priest brother; a handsome werewolf who keeps his lupine nature concealed from the world; an elderly clairvoyant, and one trustworthy cop.

Celia Graves has three days to save the world, her sanity, and her soul.      



BLOOD LAW BY JEANNIE HOLMES
A provocative and savvy vampire, Alexandra Sabian moves to the sleepy hamlet of Jefferson, Mississippi—population 6,000, half vampires—to escape the demons lurking in her past. As an enforcer for the Federal Bureau of Preternatural Investigations (FBPI), Alex must maintain the uneasy peace between her kind and humans, including Jefferson’s bigoted sheriff, who’d be happy to see all vampires banished from town. Then really dead vamps start turning up—beheaded, crucified, and defanged, the same gruesome manner in which Alex’s father was murdered decades ago. For Alex, the professional has become way too personal.

Things get even more complicated when the FBPI sends in some unnervingly sexy backup: Alex’s onetime mentor, lover, and fiancĂ©, Varik Baudelaire. Still stinging from the betrayal that ended their short-lived engagement, Alex is determined not to give in to the temptation that soon threatens to short-circuit her investigation. But as the vamp body count grows and the public panic level rises, Varik may be Alex’s only hope to stop a relentless killer who’s got his own score to settle and his own bloody past to put right.



GRIMSPACE BY ANN AGUIRE
As the carrier of a rare gene, Sirantha Jax has the ability to jump ships through grimspace—a talent which makes her a highly prized navigator for the Corp. Then a crash landing kills everyone on board, leaving Jax in a jail cell with no memory of the crash. But her fun's not over. A group of rogue fighters frees her…for a price: her help in overthrowing the established order.




THE IRON DUKE BY MELJEAN BROOK
After the Iron Duke freed England from Horde control, he instantly became a national hero. Now Rhys Trahaearn has built a merchant empire on the power — and fear — of his name. And when a dead body is dropped from an airship onto his doorstep, bringing Detective Inspector Mina Wentworth into his dangerous world, he intends to make her his next possession. 

Mina can’t afford his interest, however. Horde blood runs through her veins, and despite the nanotech enhancing her body, she barely scratches out a living in London society. Becoming Rhys’s lover would destroy both her career and her family, yet the investigation prevents her from avoiding him…and the Iron Duke’s ruthless pursuit makes him difficult to resist.

But when Mina uncovers the victim’s identity, she stumbles upon a conspiracy that threatens the lives of everyone in England. To save them, Mina and Rhys must race across zombie-infested wastelands and treacherous oceans — and Mina discovers the danger is not only to her countrymen as she finds herself tempted to give up everything to the Iron Duke.



DOUBLE CROSS BY CAROLYN CRANE
Justine Jones has lived her life as a fearful hypochondriac until she's lured into the web of a mysterious mastermind named Packard. He gifts her with extraordinary mental powers-dooming her to fight Midcity's shadowy war on paranormal crime in order to find the peace she so desperately craves.

But now, serial killers with unheard-of skills are terrorizing the most powerful beings in Midcity, including mastermind Packard - and his oldest friend and worst enemy, Midcity's new mayor, who has the ability to bend matter itself to his will.

As the body count grows, Justine faces a crisis of conscience as she tests the limits of her new powers and faces an impossible choice between two flawed but brilliant men . . . one on a journey of redemption, and the other descending into a pit of moral depravity. 



VENOM BY JENNIFER ESTEP
It's hard to be a badass assassin when a giant is beating the crap out of you. Luckily, I never let pride get in the way of my work. My current mission is personal: annihilate Mab Monroe, the Fire elemental who murdered my family. Which means protecting my identity, even if I have to conceal my powerful Stone and Ice magic when I need it most. To the public, I'm Gin Blanco, owner of Ashland's best barbecue joint. To my friends, I'm the Spider, retired assassin. I still do favors on the side. Like ridding a vampire friend of her oversized stalker—Mab's right-hand goon who almost got me dead with his massive fists. At least irresistible Owen Grayson is on my side. The man knows too much about me, but I'll take my chances. Then there's Detective Bria Coolidge, one of Ashland's finest. Until recently, I thought my baby sister was dead. She probably thinks the same about me. Little does she know, I'm a cold-blooded killer . . . who is about to save her life.   



CLOCKWORK ANGEL BY CASSANDRA CLARE  
When sixteen-year-old Tessa Gray crosses the ocean to find her brother, her destination is England, the time is the reign of Queen Victoria, and something terrifying is waiting for her in London's Downworld, where vampires, warlocks and other supernatural folk stalk the gaslit streets. Only the Shadowhunters, warriors dedicated to ridding the world of demons, keep order amidst the chaos. 

Kidnapped by the mysterious Dark Sisters, members of a secret organization called The Pandemonium Club, Tessa soon learns that she herself is a Downworlder with a rare ability: the power to transform, at will, into another person. What's more, the Magister, the shadowy figure who runs the Club, will stop at nothing to claim Tessa's power for his own. 


Friendless and hunted, Tessa takes refuge with the Shadowhunters of the London Institute, who swear to find her brother if she will use her power to help them. She soon finds herself fascinated by—and torn between—two best friends: Jem, whose fragile beauty hides a deadly secret, and blue-eyed Will, whose caustic wit and volatile moods keep everyone in his life at arm's length...everyone, that is, but Tessa. 


As their search draws them deep into the heart of an arcane plot that threatens to destroy the Shadowhunters, Tessa realizes that she may need to choose between saving her brother and helping her new friends save the world...and that love may be the most dangerous magic of all.



PLEASURE UNBOUND LARISSA IONE
In a place where ecstasy can cost you your life . . .
She's a demon-slayer who hungers for sensual pleasure-but fears it will always be denied her. Until Tayla Mancuso lands in a hospital run by demons in disguise, and the head doctor, Eidolon, makes her body burn with unslakable desire. But to prove her ultimate loyalty to her peers, she must betray the surgeon who saved her life.
Two lovers will dare to risk all.
Eidolon cannot resist this fiery, dangerous woman who fills him with both rage and passion. Not only is she his avowed enemy, but she could very well be the hunter who has been preying upon his people. Torn between his need for the truth and his quest to find his perfect mate before a horrific transformation claims him forever, Eidolon will dare the unthinkable-and let Tayla possess him, body and soul...

9.17.2010

Review- Angels' Blood

I'm not sure what rock I've been under, but I had never heard of Nalini Singh until Julie at Yummy Men and Kick Ass Chicks asked if I enjoyed the Guild Hunter series (assuming that I'd read them).  When I responded "what's the guild hunter series" she demanded that I march to my local bookstore and purchase Angel's Blood right away.  Because I'm scared of Canadian women, I did as I was told.  


Elena Deveraux is a vampire hunter.  But not like you're thinking.  Vampires are created by angels (who also reside on earth) and are tasked with 100 years servitude to said angel for being granted the gift of immortality.  But a lot of vampires don't want to serve for 100 years after they're made so they run, thinking they can just sneak away.  This happens a lot.  Elena and her fellow hunters are employed to safely capture these rogue vampires and return them to their masters, their angel.  Elena is the best. So when Raphael, the archangel of New York, has a dangerous mission he needs completed only Elena's unique skills will do.  


I've only read a few books involving angels, and none of them wowed me.  Angel's Blood did.  In Elena's world angels are terrifying and powerful, with little patience or respect for humans.  They've been around for a thousand years or more and bore easily.  I found this new take on angels fascinating.  I love when an author takes a stereotype and turns it on it's face. These archangels are god-like, with enough power to turn humans into their minions. They're not evil, just scary powerful.   


Elena and Raphael's character interactions are explosive.  He's the most feared creature on this continent and yet Elena won't stand down.  She's confident enough in herself to understand she's just as powerful, just in different ways.  This story isn't just about Elena though.  It's also equally about Raphael's struggle with maintaining some level of humanity.  He's been around for more than 500 years, and he's forgotten the balance of the human struggle.  The hero/heroine story-line is top notch.


There are several secondary characters in this story, but Singh did a brilliant job of using each one to tell us more about our hero/heroine.  Every character is unique and most of all purposeful.  From Elena's best friend, and Guild director, Sara Haziz to Dmitri, Raphael's head of security, there wasn't a single person out of place.  


I also loved how that the POV was always third person, but changed views between Elena and Raphael.  This gave the story so much more depth. The switches between views were subtle and lent real purpose to the story.


Bottom line: Singh's world of vampires and angels is original and complex and should be a part of every paranormal lover's library.


5 stars

9.16.2010

Review- Poltergeist

Kat Richardson has enthralled me once again.  If my parents were right, and you're only as good as the company you keep, then I'd like to think I've come away from Poltergeist feeling smarter than before I entered. 


Harper Blaine, private investigator, is hired by a local college professor who's created a study group that tests the limits of the mind's connection to paranormal behavior, particularly in the creation of a ghost.  He knows something's gone array when the "ghost" becomes powerful enough to chase the group around the room with a table, and is able to steal items and inflict pain. After witnessing a live session Harper fears this group of misfits has created a full blown entity capable of serious harm, but she's tasked with finding out who's really in control.


Again, the science geek in me loved the underlining theme that the mind is a powerful thing; full of untapped energy and power.  The way Richardson describes the being as "a jumble of gleaming threads like a living scribble made by a giant child" and how each person connected with this ball of energy has one of these filaments tethered to them, had me rushing to the internet to discover from what physics magazine I'd heard that from. 


There's also something in the way she writes a scene. Richardson's unique views help the reader visualize the heart of a place; what makes something special and separate.  No whimpy prose on what shade of green the grass is here.  


Minus a cameo or two from The Danzingers, it took a while for any of the other familiar secondary characters to surface (even then it was very limited), stalling my interest slightly.  I'm selfish.  I found Carlos and Quinton and Edward so interesting that I want them to be in every one of Harper's tales.  But alas, I realize this would not a good series make. 


Richardson does offer up Phoebe Mason, Jamaican book store owner, in replacement though.  Phoebe was a brilliant addition to the story.  In my opinion, she helped make the story solemn where it needed to be and acted as comic relief the rest of the time; wether it was from herself or one of her amusing family members.  I hope that I get to see Phoebe again soon.


Thankfully Harper hasn't changed a bit.  She's still righteous in every way. Even the way she treats a bum on the street is virtuous. Still one of my all-time favorite literary characters.  But in general, the story was a touch slower than previously.  The case she's working brings with it a slue of compelling new faces but you're not meant to become attached to any of them so the connections are never formed, making Harper somewhat lonely.


Another one of my favorite parts of Poltergeist is Harper's better understanding of, and new interactions with, the "grey".  Because she's no longer resisting, Harper can do and see so much more, and she experiments with it's perimeters of space and time.  I can't wait to see what else is next for her abilities.


Bottom Line: This paranormal detective hasn't lost an ounce of appeal, and I can't wait for more.


4.5 stars

9.15.2010

Review- Touched by An Alien

I picked up Touched by an Alien based entirely on it's cover.  There's a Ricky Martin look-alike with an average brunette holding a gun. (standard issue) But all around them there's an explosion of monsters, space-shuttle, and car bits.  And the tag-line reads "Katherine 'Kitty' Katt joins forces with gorgeous aliens to protect the Earth, kick evil enemy butt, and save the day" Done. Going home with me.  I had an itch for a light and fun read and Touched by an Alien helped scratch it.


Everything about this story is kooky and a little over-the-top. Even the character's names are a tad ridiculous, in a very good way.  Kitty Katt, a run-of-the-mill earthling runs into Jeff Martini, an Armani-clad gorgeous alien, while fighting and killing what she soon finds out is an alien superbeing sent to earth to take over and destroy.  By killing this creature she is deemed worthy by this group of secret agents and is whisked off to their secret hideout, which turns out to be the real Area 51.  


There a couple things that bothered me a little, and I'll get them out of the way quickly so that I can move on to the parts I really enjoyed.  The way that "Kitty" so easily accepts everything she sees and hears irks me.  She's very smart granted, but even the quickest of minds would bat an eye-lash when witnessing a human turn into a winged creature.  Flinching is what separates us from robots.  The other tiny thing that bugged me slightly is that our intelligent, strong-minded heroine falls so quickly in the sack.  Now I get that this whole story takes place over the course of 48 hours and the juicy bits are fun, but I'm just one of the those odd few that prefers a slow-build when it comes to romance.


Having said that, this book is funny, and exciting, and never ever takes itself too seriously.  Each character is original and interesting, and If you asked me to pick a favorite I couldn't do it.  I'm like a proud aunt "I love them all equally".   There were a few plot twists and surprises that I greatly appreciated, and kept the story compelling.  The dialog is another jewel in the crown.  The conversations are full of banter and witty replies. Such a delight.


Bottom line: The men are gorgeous and fun to imagine and the women brazen and smart.


3.5 stars

9.13.2010

Unusualarities

Among the many quirks I have, is the display of my "TBR" and "Read" piles.  And although my husband says that my reasonings are completely lost on him, I cannot feel anything but content with my odd habit.


See, I have a lovely little "nook" in my home that's kind of all mine.  It contains my music and a couple bookshelves and an old wing-back chair. It has my husband's photography on the walls, and a few guitars and I absolutely love it.  This is where these piles live.


I like to see my TBR pile each day.  I dream about what the covers might have to tell about the stories within.  I prefer to select my next book based purely on emotion, instead of any obligations or blog-timelines.  So naturally, stacking them all together where they're easy to see and get at just makes good sense.


The reason I have for stacking my "read" books as well is twofold.  To start, once I'm done with a story or set of characters, I find it hard to just put them away on a shelf as though they meant so little. (at least not right away)  I love to walk pass them and remember scenes and how they made me feel or remember quotes that might have had an effect on me.  Secondly, by keeping them out it's easier when a friend pops over to borrow that book I kept telling them they "had to read".


The addition of the ipad this year has censored the habit slightly, but I must admit that I'd be sad if my 2 little piles of books ever went away completely.

9.09.2010

Virtual Book Club: Oct 1st

I have been eye-balling Kelly Gay's books for far too long, so this past weekend when I happened to stumble upon them at my local bookshop, Mysterious Galaxy, they seemed to jump off the shelves into my bag demanding to finally be read.  I was happy to oblige. Needless to say, I'm so excited to finally be cracking the first Charlie Madigan novel open.  I hope that you'll come join me for a chat on Friday Oct 1st.   




Goodreads synopsis:
Divorced mother of one, Charlie Madigan, lives in a world where the beings of heaven and hell exist among us, and they aren't the things of Sunday school lessons and Hallmark figurines. In the years since the Revelation, they've become our co-workers, neighbors, and fellow citizens.

Charlie works for ITF (Integration Task Force). It's her job to see that the continued integration of our new "friends" goes smoothly and everyone obeys the law, but when a new off-world drug is released in Underground Atlanta, her daughter is targeted, and her ex-husband makes a fateful bargain to win her back, there's nothing in heaven or earth (or hell for that matter) that Charlie won't do to set things right. 


Simultaneous Giveaway: Kelly will be giving away a signed copy of her next book The Darkest Edge of Dawn If you stop by and say hi and maybe join in on the discussion of The Better Part of Darkness



9.08.2010

Review- Magic Bleeds


 Every long-running series must go through a transition book or two; a time when our hero/heroine has changed their purpose, their character definition.  And a lot of times these alterations can ruin everything you've loved (i wont name names) about a character or story-line. Fortunately, Magic Bleeds nailed it.   The forth and latest installment of the Kate Daniels series has our heroine chasing after an ancient goddess, who has brought seven warriors with her.  With it she also brings Kate's hidden past to the forefront.  

The only beef I had with this book, is that I thought the story/conflict took a back-seat to Kate's personal life.  Normally, this wouldn't be a problem because the plot isn't all that, but I really liked the story-line here.  I think it should have been given a lot more attention than a transition book.  Now, don't get me wrong the story is there through-out, but it really wasn't the main focus.  And I think it should have been.


This means for all you Curran fans out there, this is what you've been waiting for. Because he finally plays a staring role in one of Kate's stories.  I like a good love story, I am female after all, and this one progresses slowly and stays true to both characters.  At times I hated him and I loved him, making Kate and Curran's saga credible.  


Kate has to decide her future in this book, and the chosen path is still very true to her character.  Her relationships change and grow, and some are still up in the air.  I like that everything isn't buttoned up, all nice and neat.  (don't worry there isn't a cliff-hanger ending)  There are still many things that Kate has yet to figure out, and I have some hopes for the rest of the series. 


I know it is a bit ridiculous to keep teetering between 4 and 4.5 reviews on the Kate Daniels series.  To me a 5 star is a perfect book; the story is captivating, the character development doesn't take a nose dive, and the writing must be superb.  Almost every great book I come across is a 4 star.  A 5 star is nothing short of perfection; there's no other way to put it.  So, although I thoroughly enjoy the Kate Daniels series and Ilona Andrews' writing in general, in my opinion they are not perfection, but they're close


4 stars

9.07.2010

Winner Announced

Somehow I've lost a day.  I thought yesterday was Sunday, making today Monday...obviously that's not the case.  Sadly, today is Tuesday meaning I'm a day late in announcing the winner of the first Virtual Book Club.   I'm a very bad blogger and I apologize. 


I hope you've all had as good a Labor Day as I had.  Except yesterday the hubs and I went on a couple hour bike-ride and I have the most awkward sunburn on my face.  Damn spf15 moisturizer, you have failed.  See I wear a bandana when biking to keep my hair out of my face, and apparently it covered a small portion of the top of my forehead.  So not only does my face have the sheen of a ripe cherry tomato, I've got my first tiger stripes.   (i may have to post a picture later and make you all feel sorry for me)  


Ok, so I've talked about myself for long enough, lets get to the real purpose of this post, shall we?    Yesterday I counted up all the comments and the names associated and put them in a hat, and had hubs pick.  And he selected:


Julie (rumor)

Congratulations Julie!!  I will contact you this morning and discuss details.  And thanks again for everyone who stopped by on Friday.  I'm looking forward to our next club. (announcement on that later this week)